6 Must-Have Salon Staples

Naja Nail Guru (@the_naja) shares six must-have salon staples that are essential for a successful service and happy, repeat clients.
Naja Nail Guru (@the_naja) shares six must-have salon staples that are essential for a successful service and happy, repeat clients.
Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Naja Nail Guru (@the_naja) shares six must-have salon staples that are essential for a successful service and happy, repeat clients.

When you open your own nail salon, suite or station, the artistic products and decor are just part of the equation. There are salon staples that are essential for a successful service and happy, repeat clients that refer you to all their friends.

Many nail professionals may quickly think of their favorite acrylic brush or top coat (which definitely are on any nail techs’ list); however, there are other salon staples such as lighting, retail items and work attire that come into play. These often overlooked and under-talked about necessities also play a big part in overall success and longevity. Let’s take a look at the seven salon staples needed by every modern day nail tech.

1. Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important things at your work station, not only for proper vision of detailed and intricate work but also for capturing a great photo of your finished product. These can be two different light sources, yet often nail techs find one that luminates for both functions. Do not skimp on the lighting! It is a main tool that often gets overlooked, while the overall decor and color scheme get the focus. Get lighting that works well. It will help your own eyesight and will help produce more precise work. Speaking of eye sight, take care of your eyes by scheduling your annual eye exams along with wearing readers/magnifiers or checking that your current prescription is accurate.

Another note on lighting for photos: Do yourself and your clients a favor by spending an hour or two with a coworker, friend or favorite client, and try out all the different angles/poses/positions to get the right lighting to capture your completed work. This way, at the end of each service, you know exactly how to position the light or hand to snap that winning shot. Take the proper time, so you have a picture taking system. Do not try to figure it out after each service! When trialing it, don’t forget to test out the lighting at all times of day, so you know exactly what to do and how to shoot your finished product at any given time, day or night.

2. Furniture

When thinking of essentials, furniture is another often overlooked necessity. However, your workstation is an important consideration, as it is a quite intimate area where you will be toiling over very small objects daily doing intricate work and connecting with other people with the intention of them becoming long lasting, repeat clients. So take the time, research and due diligence to find the most ergonomic chair for YOU! Yes, that’s right: Put yourself first, for once! That is a hard thing to do for many beauty pros, yet mandatory for a long career. Your body is actually the main tool you will be using every day, all day, and it never goes out of stock or on clearance. However, if not taken care of properly, burn out is soon to come. Make sure your work chair/stool and desk support your body and promote good posture. Your chair should be just as comfortable as your client’s chair, if not moreso.

Rule of thumb when shopping: Go for comfort and cozy for your client’s chair and ergonomic and supportive for your chair. Your client will be in their seat 1-3 hrs, while you’ll be in yours 6-12 hrs. Put yourself and your own body health first!

3. Work Attire 

Work attire is another big essential, yet many nail techs don’t even factor in their wardrobe. Many get complacent and comfortable and start going to work dressed sloppily and non-professionally. Comfort, style and professional is key. You should not look better going out on Friday night or on a date than you do for your clients. Finding breathable, movable clothes that truly show your style can be fun, and you will feel better about yourself and business.

When choosing your daily duds, recall that you are a representative of the beauty business! That does not necessarily mean high heels, spanx and a full face of makeup daily, unless that is your personal vibe. Find what goes with you and your style, and make it your unofficial work uniform. Having three to five go-to work outfits already picked out will have you always dressed for success, even on the days you aren’t feeling it.

4. Retail

The next item is by far the most forgotten essential in salons all across the industry — retail items! Having a scented candle is a fantastic way to set the mood and create a welcoming ambiance but also think like a business person and sell these candles too! Your clients love the smell and would easily purchase it if you had them for sale. Also, think nail homecare necessities like exfoliants and foot files. Small items that fit into any purse like cuticle oil, mini top coats and lip gloss are also an easy sell. Don’t miss out on these opportunities, as you are leaving money on the nail table if not offering retail items for sale.

5. Tools of the Trade

The tools of the trade needed for each nail tech vary depending on what types of services they offer. However, every nail tech needs good files. The shape, feel and grit all play an important role in choosing what will work best for a particular service.

The electric file is key for nail enhancements. Most techs are particular on the hand piece that houses the file. Some like it more on the heavy side, while others look for a super light hand piece. For the mobile techs, there are portable/cordless options that many salon pros use in their salon too to save space on their work station.

When it comes to nail buffers, choose course for enhancements and fine grit for natural nails and toes. These are essential for creating a smooth surface prior to color or art application. If you offer acrylic services, then the brush and liquid/powder are really important. If you’ve worked with other techs, then you know to never touch their favorite brush, right? This is the tool that makes the service and lays down the right foundation. The size, shape and feel of the brush all matter. The size will depend on how many acrylic beads you start with. Some techs use the 1 bead method using a larger brush, where others use a small to medium brush applying 2-4 smaller beads. Another big thing to consider when offering acrylic services is what you will use to house your liquid and powder for each service. Many prefer using a push pump for their liquid, keeping it contaminant-free, and a container matching their decor to hold the powder for each individual service.

Those offering foot treatments need to invest in quality toe nail clippers and foot files, and both manicurists and pedicurists need to have cuticle nippers and pushers.

We all know we need alcohol, but the type of alcohol is important. You will need isopropyl 99% for removing residue from the nail plate and/or gel services. The % is important. Standard rubbing alcohol is about 72% isopropyl, and the remaining volume consists of water.

6. Skin Care

Consider the skin care products that you will bring in to round out your services and make them an experience. This skin care should in include exfoliants, essential oils, massage oil and result-oriented lotions.

Revisit Salon Essentials 

Now that you have your favorite nail brands/products, your go-to nail art brush and salon-approved music playlist, schedule in some time for yourself and your staff to either invest in or overhaul your salon essentials wish list.

About the Author:

Naja, aka The Nail Guru, is an award-winning nail artist, international educator and seasoned salon owner. Her nail work has been seen on Lady Gaga, Mary J Blige, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, LL Cool J and many more. Her passion is helping young entrepreneurs in the beauty field make consistent cash from their craft. Visit @the_naja or learn.najanailguru.com.

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